I can't let any more of this day go by without making note of Ellis Burks' at-bat last night.
I have Ellis on a baseball card--a younger, thinner, sprightlier, more able Ellis--from 1988. The last time Ellis Burks was in a Red Sox uniform, I was in the third grade.
That includes most of this season, as a knee injury caused the rest of Burks' battle-worn body, already held up with a delicate system of chicken wire, duct tape, chewing gum and space-age epoxy, to almost completely collapse. Much has been made of Trot Nixon's impassioned struggle through rehab and frustration this season, but Trot is a spring chicken compared to Ellis. By this time, Ellis' at-bat is symbolic. It means something other than whether or not he'll ever really play again, whether or not the Red Sox will win the game.
Last night, after he was activated and when he came in to face pitcher BJ Ryan--twelve years his junior--in the 9th inning, it was game No. 1998 for Ellis. The Fenway Faithful, knowing this, gave him a lengthy standing ovation that left Ellis himself red-eyed in the batter's box. I don't know how he saw a pitch to hit with tears clouding his vision, but he golfed a two-out single into short right center to keep the rally alive.
Just a walk would probably have earned Ellis accolades. Even a strikeout would have been met gently, by our standards. A base hit was a miracle, Ellis a hero--not because he'd won the game, not because it helped our standings in the wild card or the division and blah blah blabbity blah--but because he'd made it. He'd gone under the knife, through agonizing rehab, and the man was there last night to stand in with his bat in his hand, which is all he ever wants to do, win, lose, strike out, hit, home run, whatever.
Today we're back to our regularly scheduled second-guessing and misery, and hey, maybe I'm a can't-see-the-forest kind of girl. But aside from a brief story in the Globe this morning, not many seem to be remembering Ellis last night.
Maybe I'm the odd girl out (again). But to me, that's what this is all about.